Trust, Respect and Confidence
Consultations can be passive, with responses sent by e-mail or posted into a box. Others are very interactive, including workshops, meetings, focus groups and shared events, building personal trust, respect and confidence. Although these important benefits may have been achieved during the consultation, there is currently no process to encourage participation as the project develops.
The MAG team noted the opportunity to fill the gap in the town centre which followed the active Ballymena public realm consultation process of summer 2012. The events and activities which had been specifically organised to try out new town centre uses during the 12 week consultation process did not have sufficient time to become part of the normal routine. Additional consultation will take place at the detail design stage of the project and it was considered important to encourage town centre participation to continue between consultations and the design and construction of the public realm project.
Many events take place every week within a few minutes’ walk in the town centre but are not as well known as they could be. Connecting these events with the people who already frequent the town centre (perhaps at different times) led to the idea of a place-based calendar covering the whole town centre. The calendar idea led instead to the idea of a blackboard, which has now been installed at the Arts Centre. Primed by the MAG team, the blackboard is now being used by local arts and business ventures to announce ‘what’s on’ in the town over the next few days. The electronic version is achieving hundreds of hits, thanks to input from Council officers.